It is a common practice for Mansukh Shah (name changed) an Andheri-based chemist, to send various orders of cosmetics, common medicines and even prescription drugs to customers’ homes.
But last month, a home-delivery order for a prescription drug for thyroid left him ensconced in a long drawn out blame-game and caused delay in the patient’s treatment. The customer had allegedly made a mistake while reading out prescription, and he had supplied pills of the wrong dosage.
The Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA) is planning to disallow chemists from delivering drugs without a doctor’s prescription. “We are calling a statewide meeting in Mumbai next month to discuss these issues,” said JS Shinde, president, MSCDA.
It is illegal for chemists to sell prescription drugs without a prescription. However, chemists said telephone-ordered deliveries have become a norm, accounting for more than 60% of their business, especially in areas such as Andheri, Khar and Bandra.
Pharmacists said competition among chemists and the increasing demand for home delivery is resulting in wrong drugs being sold. “The role of a pharmacist is to examine the prescription and advise the customer,” said Hakim Kapasi, head of Andheri Chemists and Druggists Association, “However, the delivery boy is often uneducated. If there is a communication error, there is no way to correct it.”
Doctors said patients often used old prescriptions to call for medicines. “Patients do not understand that it is hazardous,” said Dr Nikhil Datar, who set up Patient Safety Alliance in April with the help of doctors, lawyers and activists.
“Prescription medicines must be sold under supervision of pharmacists. If this is not complied with, it is a violation of the law. We may have to tighten our mechanism,” said Mahesh Zagade, state commissioner, Food and Drugs Authority.